It was just a play on words, of course, when the Florida newspapers said that Sam Querrey had “let’’ Ryan Sweeting win Wednesday. It did involve a disputed let-call. But it’s a bad choice of words for Querrey.
Sweeting said it showed “how good of a guy’’ Querrey is. The Fort Lauderdale paper called it a classy move on Querrey’s part.
I’m not so sure. It’s always nice to see examples of good sportsmanship, but is that what we saw when the chair ump said, after match point, “Ladies and Gentlemen. Mr. Querrey has conceded the point?””
Or was this just another example of Querrey’s fatal flaw. I’m going with the second choice.
Here’s what happened: Sweeting won the first set in a tiebreaker. He was up 5-4 in the second set, serving at Ad-in. Match point. So Sweeting hit a first serve into the corner, thought he had an ace, pumped his fist and yelled “YEAH!’’
With his own yelling, and with the crowd cheering his victory over Querrey, Sweeting didn’t hear the chair umpire calling a let. Sweeting needed to play the point over.
So he got ready to argue, and then Querrey approached and shook his hand and said “You’re good. Good serve.’’
Well, it’s all nice and impressive to do something like that, especially on match point. But consider that in his post-match press conference, Querrey also said this:
“I heard a let.’’
“It was a good serve. I had three other calls go my way that I probably didn’t agree with.’’
I’m not getting this at all. He heard the let, and conceded the point anyway?
Is that really sportsmanship? If Querrey had stayed alive on a bad call, then yes, that would be good sportsmanship to concede the point.
But Querrey thought it was the right call. He knew it was. If he thought he was unfairly benefitting from bad calls earlier in the match, and didn’t like that, then he should have conceded those points at the time.
It sounds as if he just didn’t feel like playing any more. And if you were Sweeting, would you have been insulted that someone let you win like that?
Now, it is true that he had a sore shoulder, and was barely serving over 100 mph. It’s also true that at times, tennis players have been known, when they’re hurt, to check-out mentally from tournaments that aren’t majors. This one was in Delray Beach.
The problem is that Querrey never seems to care enough. And it’s hard to forget him leaving the French Open last year, saying he had been tanking points, standing on the court thinking about how much he wanted to go home.
Querrey always seems to have the California dude thing going. He has the size, the serve, the groundstrokes, and has even developed the foot speed to be a top 10-type of player. When Andy Roddick retires, or fades, Querrey could become the face of American tennis. Instead, it likely will be Isner, who doesn’t have Querrey’s all-around talents, but also will never give up.
So far, Querrey, 23, manages to win only lesser events. In the majors, he hasn’t had an extra gear.
It has been an awful year for him. He’s still ranked No. 22, but has won just three of eight matches, including a first-round loss at the Australian Open. He hasn’t beaten anyone in the top 50.
And this isn’t advice I’d offer most people, but Querrey might want to ask himself this at times: “Would Jimmy Connors do that?’’
People might not leave matches talking about what a good guy Querrey is, but now they’re wondering about his desire.
He doesn’t need to be conceding matches. He needs to fight to death, not “let’’ someone beat him.